Marvel Future Fight iOS Review
I’ve often seen complaints that people rush through games solely to get a review published early. Apparently early reviews get more views than late ones, and that is important. I don’t think many will be angry at me for rushing my review for Marvel Future Fight, as at the time of writing, it is now a solid two months after release. It’s a free to play game, which means it incentivises daily log ins, so that means I have played a bit every day for those two months. Now I have to explain why I played a game like this so much – even though I am not 100% sure myself.
Let’s start with breasts. Kate Upton and her bosoms can be incredibly annoying. If they’re not constantly yammering during ads on television, they are showing up in Promoted Tweets polluting everyone’s timeline. Every day they appear, telling all that will look and listen about the horribleness that is Game of War, and lactiferously ruining Free to Play games for everyone else in the process. Free to Play is not inherently bad though, it’s just the actions of some parties that given it a horrible history. Sometimes it can be better, and Marvel Future Fight is definitely on the kinder end of the F2P spectrum. Whilst it does not do everything right, it does little to cause aggravation. And for a genre that is almost always garnering negative press that has to be seen as a plus.
In it simplest form, Future Fight is an action ARPG akin to Diablo (although Marvel Heroes on PC is perhaps a more apt comparison, but I never went deep on that game…). The core idea here is picking sets of characters – hero or villain – and levelling them up as you go. You send your characters out on missions in groups of three to fight, gain experience, and unlock new characters. Actually you usually unlock biometrics, which are then used to unlock the new characters. This, in turn, makes it take longer to unlock things, so you are asked to play more and more. Future Fight is fun though – well it must be if I am still here after two months.
The missions you send the characters out on may be ARPG in nature, but they are very bitesize. I don’t think I ever broke two minutes on one, and grinding them with higher level characters means some can be beat in under a minute. Because it is so easy to get little tasks done so quickly, Marvel Future Fight ends up a good game to play on the move. However, the game requires an internet connection, so you will need a data plan of some sort on your device. One thing that did not take two months to notice was how often environments were reused. Even though there are tons of missions, chapters, sieges, events and arena battles to partake in, there are only a few disparate areas where all these occur. So, as a result you may see the same things in chapter 1 as in chapters 4, 6 and 8.
Gameplay is simple too. I am usually a person that hates virtual controls on a screen, but most of Future Fight has players waiting for skills to cool down before pressing the button again, so in this case it works. If you three star a level (beat it with all three character still alive), you get an autoplay option added to that level – making grinding even easier. More complexity comes from setting up your team for battle, and improving them with new gear bought with gold rewards – for completing levels. With 50 characters in the game right now, there are various sets of three available to group together. Picking the right three gives in-battle boosts (up to 5% of some skills). These bonuses can sometimes make logical sense. For example, teaming Captain America, Iron Man and Spiderman together for a “Civil War” related bonus, or it can be relly silly. Teaming Nebula, Yondu, and Ronan together because they are all blue.
I should probably mention there is apparently a story to this game, which is told via text boxes before and after every fight you take part in. I read through about five of these before I started using the kindly placed skip button. This is a game about slowly improving the abilities of your team. The story may as well not be there. When you have Kingpin merrily fighting alongside Daredevil, and Ultron teaming with Ironman, no words can make sense of that.
At the time of review, the current incarnation (Version 1.3.0), still lacks a bunch of characters I’d love to see. If you are a long term comic fan, then there are huge holes in the lineup (although M.O.D.O.K is there. Bless him!), but even if you’ve just jumped aboard the Marvel Cinematic Universe in recent years there are many notable people MIA. Since I started playing, both the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy was made available – after been teased on in-game loading screens for weeks – and the heroes and villains from Ant Man were added to the game too.
If you’ve been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (it gets really good mid Season 1!), then you’ll be happy to see a version of Mockingbird make an appearance, although no Skye/Daisy/Quake/Whatever-her-name-is or any other regulars from there show up. If you are excited about what Netflix are doing with Marvel, then you’ll be happy to see a bunch of characters from that dark corner show up. Characters from both current shows and ones in production are here – Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Kingpin. Elektra and Bullseye are there too – even though they’ve not appeared on that show yet. Maybe Season 2!. There is no Jessica Jones in the game though – that’s another big omission. Speaking of Jessica Jones’ absence, it is worth noting, there is a rather large gender gulf in the game. My count shows 10 female characters up against 40 male. I am including robots, trees, raccoons and giant flying-headed things as male in case you’re wondering. IF and when more characters get added, this lopsidedness could be rectified, although it is certainly not an equal footing to start the series on.
Also, there are no X Men or Fantastic Four related characters whatsoever. This mostly has to do with Fox/Marvel film licensing issues. Marvel doesn’t want to portray any of their “lost” characters in a positive light, so they will likely not show up here… this is just Marvel being dicks. Speaking of Fox (who confusingly can use Scarlet Witch in their movie if they want to, but Marvel can too), there is no Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver from Age of Ultron in here either. Oh and no Deadpool either. I am sure Deadpool would not be happy about this.
[Deadpool Note: Yeah, I am pissed off].
Whilst reviewing F2P games, I usually try to bullishly play through without handing over any cash. However, I threw about €15 at this one in an effort to see what advantage paying would give players. I paid the same amount for a random game on Steam one night, so it felt like the right price to pay if I was going to hand money over. I found that paying will not make you an instant winner in Future Fight (not my small sum anyway), it ultimately just fast forwards progress for a while. Depending on how wise you spend, you can nab a few high powered characters with the money to help early in the game.
But even though I’d now unlocked these characters, I still had to play the game to level them up. There are ways to pay more, to quickly level, such as EXP chips and other boosters, but I am pretty sure you’d reach four figure sums if you wanted to buy your way all the way to the top. It would be however nonsensical to do this, as the game offers so much for free, and a decent boost for smaller one-off payments. Thankfully, no nonsense such as paying to level ever seems forced, and the fact you can put a low level character into a team with two higher level ones, and then level up that character very quickly – in about an hour or so – means there is never a need to.
I have played many F2P games in the past, and an overwhelmingly large percentage will, at some point, shove a huge roadblock in your face demanding money (or else wait a hell of a long time) to continue playing. Whilst Future Fight is not exactly altruistic – it has many meters, timers, and currencies to keep track of – it always seems to position itself on the fairer side of the fence. The developers, of course, want to make some money from players, but not every corner of the game seems obsessed with bleeding you dry.
During the weeks I played to write this review, the developer has been holding various in-game events to promote players to play more. The energy requirements – which can be the bane of many F2P games – were at times halved. Free crystals were randomly offered – which are used to buy certain in game objects. Free gold was offered to let players upgrade characters. Free chests were even given out – sometimes containing full new characters. Free Energy is even offered on a regular basis. It is almost as if the developers are too nice right now!
Of course, the big issue with games like this as they develop is that all the above can quickly change if the developers fiddle with a few of their internal buttons, knobs and levers. It is all too easy for them to make some items cost more, make others drop less, and make timers last longer. However, right now, in the current incarnation of Future Fight (Version 1.3.0), things feel unintrusive a and borderline rosy, and more importantly fun. I will likely keep playing for at least a few more weeks if things stay that way.
So yeah, there are a bunch of things to complain about, and more that might become issues in the future. Some of them might be rectified going forward, and some are just intrinsic to the game’s F2P nature. Regardless of the downsides, and even though the game can be very grindy, I am finding myself liking it, and I’m willing to invest time into it daily. Whilst it is no where near the same level of quality of something like the aforementioned Diablo, the game offers the same sort of mindless thrills I’ve grown to love about Blizzard’s genre-topping effort. Over the last few weeks it has turned into the perfect podcast game.